NEW YORK – The world’s fastest Volkswagen Beetle went a record 205 miles per hour at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats on September 12.
The vehicle, dubbed the Beetle LSR — that stands for Land Speed Record — has the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine block as a 2014 Beetle Turbo R-Line. But much of the rest of the engine was modified by California’s THR Manufacturing, VW spokesman Mark Gillies said. The company installed different turbochargers and pistons, and made other changes to give the 210 horsepower car a staggering 543 horsepower.
Official speed record rules limit how much a car can be altered and still be considered a Beetle, Gillies explained. That means that engineers couldn’t make extensive changes to the body to improve the bulbous Beetle’s aerodynamic profile.
But they did make a few tweaks. The suspension was modified so the car sits lower to the ground, and a front air dam was added to help prevent air from going underneath and lifting the car at high speeds. The interior was replaced with a roll-cage and racing seat, and the standard tires were replaced with high-speed racing tires. Parachutes were also attached to help slow the car.
The Beetle averaged 205 miles per hour over a one mile stretch, after first building up speed. At one point, it even got to 208 miles an hour.
Preston Lerner, a contributing editor for Automobile Magazine, piloted the car.
“We had enough power to go even faster if the salt hadn’t been so sketchy,” he said in a statement. “But seeing 208 miles per hour briefly on the digital readout was an experience I’ll never forget.”
The previous “Word’s Fastest Beetle” was a 1955 model that went almost 175 miles an hour in 1988.
By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN